What is Pillar Content?

Effective content marketing naturally attracts customers to your brand. The Information Age has informed and connected customers more than in any other period of human history. Today’s customers relish the opportunity to engage experts and relevant content in the privacy of their home.

This development has opened the door to inbound and content marketing. Businesses that want to attract customers in the 21st Century know that they have to enhance their customer’s ability to be informed and connected before they buy.

If you want to have enough content that can engage customers across a variety of online channels, then you need create a plan that starts with Pillar Content.

Pillar Content Definition

In short, pillar content is a blog/article that is both informative to customers and your starting point for topic clusters.

Topic clusters lay out the issues pertaining to the problems of your customers. At some point, you have to be able to understand those issues. After understanding the issues, you must explain them in a way that is accessible to your customers. This creates a foundation for powerful content marketing strategy.

You want to build (typically three) pillar content articles/blogs that encapsulate the main issues in each step of the buyer’s journey: Awareness, Consideration, Sale/Decision.

Pillar Content in Practice

To attract customers effectively, businesses attempt to feel intimately the problems their customers face within each stage of the buyer’s journey. After “walking in the shoes of their customers,” they build an overview article/blog addressing all the issues within each stage.

Each overview article/blog forms its own “pillar.” And each pillar article/blog broadly covers as many issues as possible related to that stage.

For example, in the consideration stage, a customer found the words to describe the problems they are having. Now they need help understanding the industry within which their problem lies. A customer has discovered in the awareness stage that they may have a mold problem. In their consideration stage, they are figuring out who to go to to solve their problem.

In the example above, a home restoration company using a content marketing strategy will create a pillar article. The article lays out (broadly) all the key issues in the restoration industry that potential customers should be aware of.

And all the individual issues form the topic cluster for the restoration company to create more specific content. That more specific content generally takes the form of more articles/blogs, videos, podcasts, and more.

Pillar content organizes customer problems and issues into groups of topic clusters. This guides further content creation. And as a result, a business can engage their customers with fresh, creative content across all digital channels without having to pay a dime for advertising.

What Makes Cornerstone Pillar Different than Cornerstone Content?

Usually pillar content, while exhaustive on the issues relevant to any given stage in the buyer’s journey, does not necessary go in depth. It brushes over each issue providing internal links to more in depth blogs that dig deeper into those issues.

On the other hand, cornerstone content seeks to provide both an overview of the issues relevant to any given stage in the buyer’s journey and go as in as much depth as possible. The result is that your cornerstone content (article, blog, or downloadable PDF) will be much longer than pillar content.

For example, a great pillar article might only be 900 words. But the cornerstone article/resource will usually be 2500 words or longer.

In conclusion, understanding the problems and preferences of customers is not an easy task. Content marketing provides a more intuitive approach to understanding those problems and preferences. Businesses that properly incorporate effective content marketing are better equipped with the emotional intelligence to do business in the 21st Century.

For a deeper understanding of content marketing and pillar content, HubSpot’s Content Marketing Certification is free. I encourage any and all content marketers and business owners to complete the course. You may or not you have the skills and time to create your own content marketing machine. But the course will put you in the right mindset to be successful, even if you have to hire experts to manage your content marketing for you.